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Runner thankful for "pushy" friend | Community Spirit

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Runner thankful for "pushy" friend
Runner thankful for "pushy" friend

St. Petersburg, Florida - Mark McBride has run in a lot of different races. He's in such good shape he can tick them off while he runs: Iron man, marathons, etc. But next week, for the very first time, he'll join the throngs taking on the St. Pete Beach Classic.

A friend of Mark's founded the race in 2004. In the running world, Wendy Johnson was known for getting things done. So when Wendy, who'd had skin cancer on her ear, noticed a suspicious freckle on Mark's neck, she was persistent.

"She had said to me, 'Mark, you ought to get that checked out.' And I'm like OK, whatever, and I never did anything. A month or two later she said, 'Mark, you REALLY need to get that looked at!'"

That spot turned out to be nearly stage three melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and Mark had extensive surgery. "My doctor told me if I had let it go any longer, the outcome would not have been good," he said.

Mark is still running, but last year his friend, Wendy, died. After ten years, the skin cancer on her ear had spread to her brain and her race came to a halt.

But just like memories of Wendy, this year the Classic lives on. It will take place on Saturday, January 15. In conjunction with the race, a health and fitness expo will be held the day before at the Sirata Beach Resort. Friday's expo is open to the public and people will be able to get a variety of free health screenings there, including one for skin cancer.

And next week, when Mark's feet are running a 10K, his heart will be with his "pushy" friend. "Believe me, I wouldn't be running out here today if it wasn't for Wendy."

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